hello, and welcome to nhk "newsline." i'm ross mihara in tokyo. weather officials warn of heavy rains across japan. typhoon neoguri has been downgraded to a severe tropical storm, but it's still causing serious concern. it roared through the okinawan island chain, triggering fierce winds and downpours. the storm caused mudslides and floods in okinawa. two houses destroyed. and many others were damaged. at least 32 people were injured. authorities at one point issued evacuation advisories to more than half a million people.
strong winds and heavy rains have disrupted flights, ferry services, and electricity. weather officials say the storm may land on the main southern island early thursday, they say it will interact with the rainy season front and bring higher amounts of precipitation to areas in the north. nagano prefecture recorded 70 millimeters of rainfall in an hour. a mudslide there engulfed a mother and her three sons, one of the boys has been confirmed dead. rescue crews say the family's house was swept away by the force of the mud. indonesians have cast ballots to choose their next president. the results aren't in, but both have claimed victory. nhk world's jun yatsumoto
>> reporter: indonesia's election commission will take about two weeks to officially declare the results. and the new president will not take office until october. for now, both candidates are relying on independent, quick counts. the tallies are from sample votes cast around the country. outdoing president you'd yoe know urged both sides to restrain themselves. he also asked not to allow their supporters to declare victory. until the election commission announces the winner. during the campaign, 53-year-old joko, the governor of jakarta, kept a significant lead until a few months ago. supporters consider the self-made businessman the new guard because he does not have ties to indonesia's powerful
families. 62-year-old prabowo, an ex-general and former son-in-law of the late president, caught up quickly in the campaign. he picked up endorsements from many of the country's largest political parties. observers have characterized this election as a watershed moment in indonesia's democracy, but now some fear that the division over who will lead indonesia may cause confusion and instability across the country. jun yatsumoto, nhk world, jakar jakarta. israeli air strikes on the gaza strip have killed at least 28 people including children. rockets from gaza have also been fired at israeli cities. rockets have been fired at israel's large-scale offensive began on tuesday in retaliation for rocket attacks on gaza. the israeli military says it has bombed more than 400 sites in the territory, including homes
of the leaders of the militant group hamas. on wednesday a funeral was held in a gaza town for a family of six, including a 16-year-old girl. a gaza health official says the air strikes have killed at least 28 people and injured more than 200. among the victims were women and children as well as hamas members. the israeli military says militants of gaza have fired 45 rockets with a range of 160 kilometers since tuesday night. the rockets hit tel aviv and other heavily populated cities along the mediterranean coast and have even reached jerusalem. the israeli military is not likely to stop its offensive until it can push back the palestinian attacks. ukraine's leader is taking stock of his recent military success and planning his next move. president petro poroshenko made a surprise visit to slavyansk. government forces recently recaptured the eastern time from
pro russian militants. poroshenko spoke to soldiers who took part in the battle. he said ukraine's independence is at stake and he added he is ready to hold talks with whoever is willing to lay down arms. poroshenko also met residents of the town and promised to restore damaged infrastructure. government troops have taken back at least six towns that pro-russian militants used as strongholds. the militants are concentrating their forces in the central cities of donetsk and luhansk. the national security and defense council announced on tuesday the military is preparing to encircle those cities. the united states and china have started high-level talks but it is clear both sides expect quite different results. china has urged the u.s. to respect its sovereignty and territory, while american leaders are demanding china act responsibly. the two-day strategic and economic dialogue opened in beijing with secretary of state john kerry and treasury
secretary jack lew heading the u.s. delegation. in the opening speech, chinese president xi jinping says the pacific ocean has ample space to accommodate the two great nations. he said the two sides should strengthen trust through dialogue and seek to build a new model of superpower relations. >> translator: we should treat each other equally and with mutual respect and respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity. and respect the path of development each chooses. >> we welcome the emergence of the peaceful, stable, prosperous china that contributes to the stability and the development of the region and that chooses to play a responsible role in world affairs. >> kerry said that a new model of relations is not defined in words, but in actions.
the operator of fukushima daichi has ginn -- given media members a look at one of their latest projects. they're creating a massive wall of ice. it's a new way to contain radioactive waste water. engineers have designed the ice wall to keep ground water from seeping into the facilities and becoming contaminated. they plan to freeze soil over a 1 1/2-kilometer stretch around the damaged reactors. tokyo electric power company officials took reporters to a site near the number four reactor building. workers are digging 30-meter deep holines to install coolant pipes. they're also adding metal pipes that will protect them. they'll begin to freeze the soil next march if the project goes as planned. crews are also trying to stop contaminated water from flowing into the ocean. they're trying to freeze the water in a tunnel, but they haven't been successful in more
than two months. the nuclear regulation authority has raised concerns that the ice wall will have the same problem. but the chief of the plan says the two projects use different methods. >> translator: we have confirmed through our verification tests that the soil does freeze, so i think at this point, the ice wall project will work. >> officials say the ice wall in the tunnel will intersect at some point. analysts fear if crews aren't able to freeze water inside the tunnel, it could cause delays to the ice wall's construction. japanese politicians have been debating scrapping the country's nuclear reactors since the 2011 fukushima daiichi disaster. now prime minister shinzo abe says the country will push for nuclear power generation as a key energy source. but storing the toxic radioactive waste from these facilities is still a challenge. in this edition of "nuclear watch," nhk world's yoichir
yoichirio tateiwa look at how issues plan to deal with this issue. >> reporter: located near japan's northern most point, horonobe is a small dairy farm town. here researchers of the japan atomic energy agency are studying the possibility of final disposal of radioactive waste. workers at the facility that opened in 2003 have dug 380 meters into the ground. researchers are looking into whether nuclear waste can be safely stored. japan's nuclear energy policy says spent nuclear fuel must be reprocessed and recycled as fuel. in reprocessing, workers extract the plutonium and uranium as recyclable substances, leaving behind highly toxic waste water.
researchers mix that with heated glass and power the high-level radioactive waste into steel containers. each unit is 1.3 meters in height and 500 kilograms in weight. and they emit radiation at an extremely high level, enough to kill a person within 20 seconds. >> translator: regardless of japan's nuclear energy policy, highly radioactive nuclear waste must be disposed of. we have to ensure that such waste does not harm the human environment. >> reporter: where i'm standing right now is 250 meters underneath the ground level. and as you can see, here is a research facility for the study of the disposal of high-level
radioactive waste. the facility must be safe for an extremely long time, as experts say it takes 100,000 years for radioactive waste to become harmless. researchers here study the movement of geological strata and underground water. workers have to pump up 120 tons of underground water daily. they also assess the durability of materials around the nuclear waste units to ensure that radioactivity does not escape. this is an image of the underground storage facility. the two-by-three kilometer site has a capacity of 40,000 units. the total length of its tunnels is to be 270 kilometers. researchers hope to find out what impact an earthquake would
have on the facility. they installed seismometers at the site and monitor tremors constantly. >> translator: radioactive waste stored here will have been processed into perfectly solid form so the glass units will shake with the facility. this means an earthquake would not destroy them. >> reporter: for members of the country's most prestigious science association are voicing their concerns about deep repository systems. they say it's hard for japan to build a facility in the region that's prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity. they recommend that japanese leaders look for other technological developments to safely store waste. japan has 1,700 glass nuclear waste units.
the number will rise to 27,000 if all spent fuel rods currently stored at the nuclear plants were processed. japanese leaders must decide where and how to safely store the waste. researchers at horonobe plan to start an experiment using simulated waste units later this year. they say real nuclear waste will never be used here. the research agency and the local government agreed that radioactive materials will never be brought into the township. yoichirio tateiwa, nhk world. >> the idea of storing nuclear waste underground is debated around the globe. only finland and sweden have chosen construction sites for such facilities. four crippled reactors, a constant buildup of contaminated
water, radioactive leaks threatening the environment. the people in charge of fukushima daiichi are struggling to control the plant. how will they stop the leaks and decommission the facilities? get the latest on the aftermath of the nuclear action with in-depth reports and special features. nuclear watch, only on "newsline." japanese fighter jet scrambles have hit a record high for a three-month period. the foreign aircraft approaching japan's air spas has been more from russia than china. a defense ministry report says japan scrambled air defense force interceptor jets against russian aircraft 235 times between april and june. that's more than seven times the number during the same period last year. japan scrambled jets 104 times against chinese planes. the report says multiple russian planes came close to japan
almost every day in the three-month period. six russian bombers flew around japan almost simultaneously in april. in may and june, a chinese fighter jet flew within 30 meters of an sdf plane. the japanese plane was on a surveillance mission near the japan/china median line in the east china sea. japan launched a protest with china describing the act as very dangerous. the defense ministry report says the number of scrambles during the three-month period totalled 340. the highest figure for 20 years. construction teams in okinawa are getting ready to build a u.s. marine corps base after many years of protest. but a report by a japanese environmental group is raising questions about the project's viability. the nature conservation society of japan says the development could threaten an endangered species. nhk world's noriko okada reports.
>> reporter: futenma air station has been a key base for u.s. forces in japan for decades. it's located in the central part of okinawa's main island. but people living nearby have been pushing for it to be moved. they say there's a constant roar of aircraft, and crimes by u.s. servicemen have fueled their anger. leaders in japan and the u.s. agreed to redraw the map of the american facilities in japan. they announced a plan to move the base to the less populated coastal area of henoko. but that plan has proven controversial. it requires construction teams to reclaim land, and some people have expressed concern about how that might affect the environment.
at the center of the debate are endangered marine mammals called dugong. they have been spotted in the area on many occasions. defense ministry officials claimed the project would have only a limited impact on the local ecosystem including the dugong. they pressed okinawa governor to approve the project. and late last year, he did with provisions to ensure the project won't affect animals living in the area. he gave the green light to start building the base after years of debate. but big questions remain about the impact it will have on the environment. a conservation group held a news conference wednesday in tokyo. the chairman of the nature conservation society of japan says they've found evidence of the endangered mammal.
a survey in the spring turned up more than 110 new bite marks on sea plants in the area. >> translator: we can see how this coastal area is beneficial for the dugong's life. the government should conduct more research. >> reporter: after the animals feed, a unique mark is left behind on the sea plant. members of the group say that the dugong's marks have been detected over the years and have been increasing since may. they say this shows the coastal area must be a feeding ground for the animal. the group is going to call on the government to scrub the project and will investigate the area. central government officials are planning to conduct a coastal drilling service soon before starting work to reclaim the
land of henoko. noriko okada, nhk world. a japanese shipping firm is to use the arctic ocean as a regular route. mitsui osk lines plans to start transporting liquefied natural gas through the ocean in 2018. company executives say they'll join an lng project now under way in northern russia. they'll also set up a joint venture with a chinese firm to build three icebreaker tankers. lng will be shipped to europe year round and to asia during the summer. the shipping firm expects to deliver around 3 million tons annually. a waterway through the arctic ocean is drawing high expectations. the arctic route would reduce shipping time between asia and europe by about ten days compared to the suez canal
route. the krooi sis in iraq recently pushed up crude oil prices. motorists in japan are now feeling the effects as they dig deeper into their wallets when they fill up at the gas station. the latest data from the oil information center show that as of monday, the average retail price of a liter of regular gasoline was up 1.3 yen from a week ago to 169.7 yen, or $1.67. it's the 11th straight weekly rise. analysts expect gas stations to continue passing on higher crude oil costs to consumers. car sales in india remain upbeat. their total in june marked the first double-digit rise in nearly two years. officials at the society of indian automobile manufacturers say nearly 219,000 passenger cars were sold last month. that's up more than 11% from a year ago and shows an increase for a second straight month. auto demand posted a sharp rebound following eight months
of declines. the society officials say consumer sentiment is picking up as people are optimistic about the economic policies of prime minister narendra modi's government that came to power in may. switzerland is seen as one of the world's most stable economies, but even so, the swiss are not immune to the uncertainties facing europe. nhk world's kyoko fujita met with johan schneider, the swiss minister of economy during his visit to japan. she asked him about the challenges facing his country and the european region. >> reporter: the swiss economy is expected to record solid growth of 2% this year with a very low jobless rate. even so, schneider remains cautious. he wants other european countries to do more to regain their strength and avoid any negative spillovers to the rest of the world. what do you think are the risks
for the region? >> the european central bank is offering the necessary liquidity, offers through the liquidity the time to attack the structural problems, which the european countries and european union faces. i guess that the europeans manage to solve their structural problems earlier so to reduce any risk. >> reporter: schneider achieved fame as an entrepreneur before joining the swiss cabinet. he says european nations need fresh investments and governments should do more to attract new funds. >> i'm thinking with my entrepreneurial soul, which is let's speak about how do you
motivate entrepreneurs to invest. as long as the labor markets in key european countries are so tig tight, that is my understanding no chance to significantly find out of the unemployment problems. europe needs to foremost liberalize their labor laws. >> reporter: the minister says the biggest risk to the european economy is deflation. he says european leaders are looking at japan's experience for hints toward a solution. >> principally, we do not fear an inflation coming up during the next one to three years. and that has something to do with the policy of the european
central bank, which follows some sort of abenomics, which means quantitative and qualitative easing. >> reporter: what are your thoughts on the development of the asian market? >> we depend for about three-quarter of our exports from the european union. we depend for two-thirds of our imports from the european union. that's why we are here. we want to increase our trade volume with japan. we are really much interested in creating best relationships with the far east countries like china, like korea. naturally, once again, with
japan because we know that the european neighborhood is not in the best conditions. we try hard to expand our activities to the whole globe. >> reporter: switzerland and japan celebrate the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year. in looking more toward japan and the east, schneider-ammann says there's still plenty to learn from each other. kyoto fujita, nhk world. here is the world weather forecast.